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He must be wealthy, well-born and want her more than he wants any other woman. Those are the conditions that must be met by the man Cassandra Belmont chooses for her lover. Marriage is out of the question for the scandalous widow who must now barter her beauty in order to survive. With seduction in mind, she sets her sights on Stephen Huxtable, the irresistibly attractive Earl of Merton and London's most eligible bachelor.
But at first glance, Stephen is convinced the alluring Lady Paget is the ideal woman to share his bed. There is only one caveat: this relationship must be on his terms. But a single night of passion alters all the rules. Cassandra is now in danger of losing the one thing she vowed never to give. And Stephen, who wants Cassandra more than he has ever wanted any woman, won't rest until she has surrendered everything - not as his mistress - but as his lover and wife...
Balogh continues her chronicle of the Huxtable family in this so-so Regency. Stephen Huxtable, earl of Merton, is dashing, wealthy and unattached, which makes him a juicy target for widow Cassandra Belmont, but she soon learns that heartless seduction is not as easy as she'd hoped. As Stephen begins to probe her past, they find themselves actually falling in love. Surprisingly for a Regency romance, Balogh tackles themes like alcoholism, domestic violence, miscarriage and female independence. Cassandra's mistrust and vulnerability is understandable, and Stephen is a surprisingly mild, modern type who seems miscast as a Regency hero. While their conflict is believable she fears a loss of freedom, he fears that she will never be able to trust the conclusion feels overly contrived. Fans of the series will enjoy, though genre purists may find something off about the modern sensibilities.